Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Name of this Place is...

February 22, 2013 marks the 20th Anniversary of my favorite science fiction series. Surprisingly, my favorite is not Star Trek but Babylon 5 (and my second favorite is the similarly-themed—in some respects—Stargate series of shows).

Why was Babylon 5 my favorite? I liked Star Trek, especially the original series (which I saw during the initial run). But my favorite episodes were usually where the crew and the Federation are not the top dogs in that corner of the universe, where they often at least partially fail at what they are trying to accomplish: Where No Man Has Gone Before, The Cage/The Menagerie, The Doomsday Machine and the like. In the first, the Enterprise runs up against the barrier that surrounds our galaxy (at least in that universe!), leaving the ship crippled, crew injured or dead, and two members of the crew dangerously changed. In the second, the Enterprise finds a planet so potentially dangerous to the fabric of society that the Federation quarantines the planet from any contact. In the third, one ship is destroyed and the Enterprise is damaged fighting an alien doomsday device that has been roaming the universe for eons.

Babylon 5 is similar in that we are on the ascent, we are not yet top dogs. Some races are older, wiser, more technologically advanced. There's a lot of competition, serious competition, for survival. People are good, bad, and every shade in between. The story is filled with tragic figures (note especially the arcs of Londo and G'Kar). And the show was interesting in that the consequences of one story went forward throughout the rest of the series; in fact, there is an overall five-year story arc (battered somewhat by the departures of some stars and even the cancellation of the show on one network and the rebirth of the show on another network, but still strong enough to be seen).

So, on this anniversary, I'm starting a rewatch of the series as well as the special movies, the cancelled follow-on first series (Crusade) and the second follow-on series that never made it past a pilot (Legend of the Rangers). The sets have been struck and destroyed, the stars have moved on, aged, and (alas) in some cases, died. But the memories of that "bright beacon" still live on.

Links: Wikipedia page. Season One. Season Two. Season Three. Season Four. Season Five. ...and...

The venerable and still excellent source of all knowledge, The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5.

Viewed: In the Beginning (prequel movie); The Gathering (pilot movie, revised version). Season One: NYA. Season Two: NYA. Season Three: NYA. Season Four: NYA. Season Five: NYA.

Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe all attracted me for similar reasons: Earth was on the defensive (very much so, given the enemies faced!), and the stories sometimes took a dark turn because of that. The multiple series did not have an overriding arc like Babylon 5 (but SGU might have been taken that route, we'll never know since it was cancelled!), but definitely had multiple mini-arcs either over a season or within a season. While it is not celebrating a similar anniversary (yet!), I have started a rewatch of the series, beginning with SG-1.

Main SG-1 Wikipedia page here. Stargate Atlantis Wikipedia page here. Stargate Universe Wikipedia page here.

Viewed: Stargate (original movie). The Children of the Gods (pilot movie). Season One: The Enemy Within; Emancipation; The Broca Divide.

Down the road? If I have time this year, a rewatch of the rebooted Battlestar Galactica series is in the works. Stay tuned.

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